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Monday, June 30, 2008

Humor in Life -- The Beautiful Bride of Solomon

Well, I don't have any "funny" stories to share this week, but my husband and I ventured out on Saturday to swap out my office desk from a metal one loaned by Stu's mom when I first moved here to a wooden executive desk that came from Stu's previous supervisor at work. Here are 2 pictures of my new workspace:





Once we had that established, we headed out to an Antique Warehouse here in town and found a beautiful hallway table and a shelving unit to sit on top of my new desk. They both complement the decor nicely and add just the right touch to our cozy little condo. Here's the table:



Now, since there were no notable funny moments, I'll leave you with something a friend and author sent me. I about busted a gut from laughing so hard. What's even better is the woman featured in this video is also a friend of mine and fellow author. She is full of life, humor, and great teaching, and her books are fantastic.

Take a look and let me know what you think. :)


Friday, June 27, 2008

Spotlight on Nicole Baart and Summer Snow

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Baart was born and raised in Iowa, where she and her family now live. She taught high school English for several years in Canada but is now the full-time mother of two young sons and the wife of a pastor. After the Leaves Fall and its sequel, Summer Snow, are Nicole's first two novels. Visit her Web site at www.nicolebaart.com.

SUMMER SNOW
by Nicole Baart
Published by Tyndale House Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK

Julia DeSmit is finally learning to accept her new life. Optimistic and anxious to begin again after dropping out of college, she is taking fumbling steps down a challenging yet hope-filled road. But the careful existence Julia has begun to build falls hopelessly to pieces when her estranged mother, Janice, appears on the front porch one icy March night. Mother and daughter have not seen or talked in ten years, and a decade of anger, resentment, and bitterness follows in Janice's wake, along with a surprise Julia could never have anticipated. Julia is convinced that which is broken cannot be mended. Yet when she faces the very decision her mother did years before, she begins to realize what it means to truly accept grace. Will it be her undoing, or the impetus for a change she'd never dared hope for?

Buy Your Copy Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

Summer Snow is the sequel to my debut novel After the Leaves Fall. The concept for these books grew out of a personal writing exercise that I thought was for therapeutic purposes only. I don't journal, but I do write poems, scenes and stories to deal with and deconstruct different events and emotions in my life. Leaves and Snow were written from a graveyard scene that I had created to help me deal with the death of my grandfather. My grandpa and I were very close, and he passed away in Iowa when I was nine months pregnant and living in Vancouver, British Columbia. I couldn't travel home for his funeral because I was due any day, and since I never got to experience that closure I struggled with his death for several months. One day I just sat down and wrote the scene from an October funeral. It became the first chapter of After the Leaves Fall.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

Julia is the main character in my first two books. She lives in a small town in Iowa, and many of her experiences with the culture and climate of Midwestern America are derived from my own life. However, Julia and I are more different than we are alike. In many ways she is my alter ego, the woman that I could have been if the Lord had seen fit to shape my life differently. Julia has had an extremely difficult childhood while the Lord has blessed me with two loving parents and a supportive network of other family and friends.J ulia is in many ways jaded and somewhat cynical while I am known for my relentless optimism and inability to see the worst in people. Julia has made some really poor choices in her life and has to live with the consequences... Hmmm. I wish I could say I've never made a mistake but that just wouldn't be true! I guess we're alike in that regard.

3. What themes exist in Summer Snow that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

In the first few pages of After the Leaves Fall, Julia's grandmother tells her: "I love it best when the leaves fall...because it's not over, everything is just waiting for spring." Both books deal with the theme of renewal, of anticipating the restoration of spring in both a literal and a figurative way. I've included many references to the changing of the seasons and the way the Lord works through the different stages in our own lives. Summer Snow is the completion of the metaphor, the story of the subtle changes that begin to indicate growth in Julia.

Another major theme is forgiveness, both for other people and for ourselves. Sometimes I think we are our own harshest critics, and all the anger that we have directed at other people is really bitterness that we are trying to deflect from ourselves. Julia is an angry young woman in many ways, but sadly, much of her resentment is a form of self-loathing.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult parts for me to write were the portions of the book that dealt with Julia's anger toward her mother. My mom is a wonderful woman who has done nothing but love and support me from the day I was born. It was hard for me to imagine what it must feel like to have never felt that sort of love from the woman who gave birth to you. And it was emotional for me to realize that many women do feel that way: unloved and abandoned. I cried with Julia many times.

My favorite parts to write were the many scenes of hope... In one chapter Julia is leaving her job late at night and the moon is dangling in the sky like a jewel, in another she spends some time in the garden with her grandmother. But the absolute best scene to write was the chapter from which the title is derived. When I was in high school and college, I was a lifeguard at the local sand pit. In the afternoon, before the swimming pit was open to the public, I'd arrive early to set everything up. The best few days of summer were when the cottonwoods around the pond were shedding their fluff. I loved to swim out into the middle all by myself and float there on my back amid the frenzy of white. It looked just like summer snow to me and I had a blast recapturing that memory for the book.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is set for release in the spring of 2009. The story is multi-layered and complex, filled with surprises. I really enjoyed writing this book, but it was very difficult, too, because in it I wrestle with some very weighty issues. Suicide, mental illness, and revenge all play a major role in the plot. Also, as I was nearing the end of the book, some circumstances in my life began to mirror a few of the things I was struggling through in my manuscript. All of the sudden these abstract emotions were very raw and very close to home. I almost couldn't finish. But I'm glad that I did and I look forward to discussing this new book in depth in the months to come.

But that's all pretty theoretical. Just so you know what the book is about, I'll include a quick synopsis:

Abigail Bennett's life is unraveling. She has just abandoned her job, her swanky south Florida apartment, her elderly father, everything to chase down the object of her obsession. He's a total stranger and an alleged heartbreaker. His name is Tyler Kamp.

Abigail's journey is awash in memories of her childhood, for even as she races into her future, her past continually pulls her back. Though she tries to ignore each painful recollection of her younger days--a time filled with strict religious rules and regulations, and peppered with the errors and expectations of her aging parents--Abigail's youth cannot be ignored. And at the center of it all is Abigail's relationship with her younger sister, Hailey. Hailey is indefinably needy and strangely toxic, dangerously beautiful and frighteningly volatile. Abigail finds herself continually replaying her past, desperate for clues and longing for a chance to atone for long-ago mistakes.

Past and present finally collide when Abigail's obsession forces her to chase Tyler from Florida all the way across the continent to British Columbia's fabled Summerlands. Torn between grace and condemnation, redemption and revenge, Abigail faces the implications of living a less than perfect life. And though she is convinced that everything is black or white, obsession, and ultimately justice, prove to be much more complicated than Abigail first imagined.

* * * * *

Wow! That sounds like a book with some meaty content. Looking forward to seeing it in 2009! Thank you, Nicole, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Summer Snow.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

* * * * *

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spotlight on Debbie Fuller Thomas and Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debbie Fuller Thomas has contributed to story collections such as 'Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul' and 'But Lord, I Was Happy Shallow.' As a breast cancer survivor, she recently celebrated her ten-year anniversary. Debbie and her husband have two adult children, and enjoy life in a historic gold rush town in Northern California. 'Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon' is her first novel.

TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE BLUE MOON
by Debbie Fuller Thomas
Published by Moody Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Marty Winslow's daughter dies of a devastating genetic disease, she discovers the truth--her child had been switched at birth. Her actual biological daughter was recently orphaned and is being raised by grandparents in a retirement community. Marty is awarded custody, but Andie refuses to fit into the family, adding one more challenge for this grieving single mom that pushes her toward the edge, and into the arms of a loving God. For Andie, being forced to live with strangers is just one more reason not to trust God. Her soul is as tattered as the rundown Blue Moon movie drive-in the family owns. But Tuesday night is Family Night at the Blue Moon, and as her hopes grow dim, healing comes from an unexpected source--the hurting family and nurturing birth mom she fights so hard to resist.

Buy Your Copy Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. This is your first novel. Congratulations! What gave you the inspiration for your story in this anthology?

Thank you! I saw a story in People magazine about two babies who were switched at birth, and since we often took our children to an old drive-in movie theater on Sunday nights (for cheap), it seemed like an interesting match. I had purchased the magazine for a road trip to Disneyland. My family sat in a loaded car in the parking lot of the medical center waiting for me to finish my final radiation treatment for breast cancer, and once we got on the road, I started jotting down scenes. After the 8 hour drive, I reluctantly had to put it aside and head to the park, but the story kept going in my head.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

While I enjoy baking, Marty's baking mania was purely her own. Baking is such a homey thing to do, making the house smell wonderful and bringing comfort to the family, and it personified her desire for her family to be whole while giving her an outlet for her stress. I have never lost a child – that's Marty's experience alone. Winnie is an amalgam of many wonderful children I meet in my 'day job', which is managing after-school programs and day camps. They are sweet, loving, and remarkably resilient and forgiving, and some are incredibly needy for being so young. Although I have occasionally taken long drives in my car and fantasized what it would be like to be someone else without my frustrations, I've never driven as far as Marty or stayed away as long. Like Marty said, I guess every mom has done that at some point, but we always go back. I'm glad to say that I don't know any Deja's personally. Bluegrass music reminds me of my dad.

3. What themes exist in Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

A major theme for the book is that restoration and healing are possible with God. But the main theme, which I think unfolds gradually and Marty realizes at the end, is that we are God's children, switched at birth in a broken world, and that God wants to reclaim us as the rightful birth parent.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

One of the hardest parts to write was the anniversary of Ginger's death. The family attends church together and Andie comes to the realization that Marty is truly her biological mother and that she has a part in the anguish that Marty is experiencing. And then, of course, they go to the cemetery. But it helps Andie to be a little more sympathetic to the family and makes it a bit easier to accept her place in it.

My favorite part was writing the confrontation between Marty and the health inspector at the farmer’s market. I interviewed a local health inspector about the scene and he mentioned that there hadn't been a health inspector as a romantic interest since "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." He was happy to help. It was gratifying to have Marty 'toss' that cake—or did she drop it?

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book will be released in September 2009, and the working title is Raising Rain. It's about Rain, a 30-something single career woman who longs for motherhood at any cost, and Bebe, one of four college roommates from the radical 60's who raised her. As one who has come to know God intimately, Bebe must help Rain navigate the maze of her unorthodox childhood while revisiting her own turbulent past, raising doubts about God's--and her own--willingness to forgive.

* * * * *

Thank you, Debbie, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

* * * * *

Monday, June 23, 2008

Humor in Life -- Bugs on the Windshield

All right, so I know it's been weeks...perhaps even months...since I've posted a Monday morning update on my life. But there have been so many fantastic books out there, I've been preoccupied with spotlighting them and interviewing the authors. But Aunt Paula reminded me it's been a while, so I got convicted. :) I know a lot of my family read this -- if you don't comment -- so here's the latest.

Today, I'm faced with no spotlight and space to fill. So, I'll do a quick recap of what's been happening in life, then get into the headline story.

We've had our condo on the market since February, but the market is so bad now, that with only 4 showings in 6 months, we had to take it off the market. We're still looking to sell it, but it seems we'll be living here for a smidgeon longer. I only pray that when God blesses us with the start of our family (and yes, we're trying for that now), I won't have to spend the latter days of my pregnancy walking up 2 flights of stairs. Otherwise, Stu might have to carry me. *winks*

In May, I attended the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference and received amazing feedback on my first book and my writing. Armed with requests from 3 editors and 2 agents, plus seeing all of the flyers for my web design business taken, I came away from that conference in Estes Park on a high that galvanized me into action. A couple of weeks later, that high deflated a bit when one of the agents told me the manuscript had to be completely edited and polished before she would look at it. With a deadline looming on July 15th, I don't have time to finish editing the rest of the manuscript, so it'll have to wait until afterward.

Colorado Christian Writer's Conference Photos (mostly scenic)

Then, in June, I took a road trip with a good friend, Jeanne (pronounced Gee-nee), to South Dakota's Black Hills to attend a CFO (Camps Farthest Out) family camp for a week. We caravanned with others she knew and what might have taken 7-1/2 hours ended up with me on the road for nearly 13 hours! But that's all right, because Jeanne and I had quite an adventure on the drive up north.

Of course, you put two women who are prone to laughter and insane antics in a car together for 8 hours and something is bound to happen!

In our case, we were driving along at a good speed, following behind the SUV with a trailer and trying hard not to lose our leader when he didn't seem to remember we were following him. He'd switch lanes, signal a little late, or decide at the last minute which direction he wanted to turn. We were left trying to figure out just where he was headed. All the while, we're chatting up a storm and listening to music on my iPod my husband bought me for our 9-month anniversary. :)

All of a sudden, we both heard a loud splat on the windshield. Keep in mind that since we're driving across eastern Colorado and western Nebraska, there isn't much to see except flat land and a few hills. The road and land stretched out for miles. This means, there's nothing to stop the bugs in the air from smacking against the windshield. It's a normal sound that you get used to hearing, even though you cringe when one makes a bit more of a mess than you might prefer, or flipping the switch for windshield wiper fluid and the wipers only makes the matter worse.

When this loud splat occurred, Jeanne squirmed in her seat. She kept making "eww, eww" sounds and pointing at the windshield. So, I did what any normal driver would do. I flipped the switch for the wipers to go. That only made Jeanne's reaction worse! And because I had to keep my eyes on the road -- even if I'd only drive off into a bunch of ranchland if I left the road -- I couldn't see what she was seeing. I also have a dreamcatcher hanging from my rearview mirror, so a small area of my windshield is blocked.

And yep...you guessed it. That spot was exactly where this "bug" had chosen for his splatted resting place.

So, amidst me attempting to keep my eye on the lead car in front of us, I was distracted by Jeanne's squirming and pointing, and when I had flipped the switch, I finally caught sight of the "bug" that had hit the windshield. This thing wasn't really a bug.

It was a flying grasshopper! And a BIG one at that!

Needless to say, at the speed we were going, it made quite a mess. And if that wasn't enough, it managed to lodge its wing underneath the right wiper so when I tried to swish it off my windshield, it would just go with the wiper and smear a rounded path across that side of the windshield. No wonder why Jeanne was squirming in her seat!

Well, being the adventurous gal that she is, Jeanne offered to roll down the window and grab hold of the wiper to lift it and see if the grasshopper would dislodge itself and fly back over the top of the car. Keep in mind, this is a woman who hates bugs of any kind. So, to see her willing to do this was quite a feat. I told her to go ahead with a raised eyebrow as I warily alternated between watching her movements and keeping another eye on the road ahead.

With painstaking slowness, she reached out the window and grabbed the wiper with her forefinger and thumb to raise it from the windshield. The grasshopper clung to it. So, she snapped it down. After a moment or two, she tried again, only this time, something happened...

The grasshopper moved---toward HER!

It started to slide toward her side of the car, which made her squeal and snap the wiper down again as she snatched her arm back inside the car and rolled up the window. I was praying all this time that the movement would dislodge the thing, but it didn't. When I saw it move thanks to Jeanne's assistance, I thought we might finally have some success. Turning toward her with a hesitant but amused look on my face, I asked if she thought I should hit the switch for the wipers and fluid again.

We both waited a moment or two before deciding. After all, we didn't want to get the thing stuck worse...again. Keep in mind, that this escapade also had us almost doubled over in laughter. As it had been almost 8 hours since I had left that morning, added to getting up at 5:30am, let's say I was a little punchy and a lot road-weary. But back to the story. I decided it was worth the risk, so I reached for the signal arm and pulled it toward me to squirt the fluid as the automatic wipers went into motion.

Jeanne and I sat there and prayed as we watch the grasshopper stay put on the windshield, dislodged from the wipers, and with a final swish, it went whoosh over the top of the car and gone somewhere behind us. With the "crisis" averted and the open road once again ahead of us, we dissolved in a fit of laughter. Let's just say it's a good thing no one was relying on US to lead the caravan or was driving next to us during this entire ordeal. We might have been reported to the county sheriff for drunk or disorderly driving. :)

I wish I had some pictures to share, but somehow I doubt Jeanne would have taken one. *g*

The fun doesn't stop there, though. With that behind us, we came upon what I now know as a Wind Farm. The tall structures that looked like technologically-advanced windmills loomed into the sky to our left. I just had to stop and take a few pictures. And since the road went on for miles in front of us, I figured a few moments wouldn't hurt us. We'd catch up to the car in front of us in no time. As I was snapping pictures, Jeanne remarked about whether or not the lead car even knew we weren't behind them anymore. We had exchanged cell phone #'s at the rest stop, but nothing but silence came from our end. I wasn't concerned, but it did confirm the lack of notice the lead car had regarding our status.

When we were on the road again and cresting a small hill, we saw the SUV and trailer up ahead. And that's when the phone rang. I laughed, picked it up to answer and assured them we were still behind them. They said they were driving along and all of a sudden noticed we weren't there. Then, they wondered how long we'd been gone, and I couldn't help but laugh. When I relayed this to Jeanne, she shook her head. It seems we needed to be on our guard and plot out our own route in case we got separated, because it might be awhile before that car ahead noticed us. :)

Well, we had many more adventures over the course of the next week, but there are far too many to name. Our time at the camp included a symphony of snoring from everyone in the cabin (except me, of course, who wonders how folks can snore and not wake themselves up), amusing drama experiences, fantastic worship, great speakers, delicious food, and amazing scenery. It also included a visit to Mt. Rushmore (my first!) and the tourist trap of Keystone. I even managed to get 2 chapters written on my deadline novel coming up in July. On the return drive, we headed west into Wyoming so I could mark one more state off my list as being visited, and Jeanne slept from north of Cheyenne into Colorado. By the time I arrived home, it was 8pm and we'd left around 9am that morning. But it also included taking Jeanne all the way home and winding the back way across the Continental Divide and Front Range to re-enter Colorado Springs.

South Dakota Road Trip Photos

Hubby was glad to have me home, and I was glad to be home. The week following was fairly uneventful, and last week, I joined my sister-in-law, niece and nephew, cousin and her 2 children for a visit to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. What a great way to spend the afternoon. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy:

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Photos

That's about all for now. I'll be back next week with whatever other funny escapades happen to me this week. Who knows what kind of trouble I can find! :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blog Tour - Suzanne Woods Fisher and Copper Fire

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suzanne Woods Fisher's just-released historical novel Copper Fire, is the sequel to the three-time award-winning Copper Star, a World War II love story inspired by true events. Fisher was a contributing editor to Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her work has appeared in Today's Christian Woman, Worldwide Challenge, ParentLife, and Marriage Partnership. She has contributed to ten non-fiction books, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs.

A wife and mother, Fisher lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. The best thing about being a writer, she feels, is that all of life becomes material for writing. It's all grit for the oyster.

Suzanne can be found at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com/.

During the month of June, Suzanne is running a book-a-day-giveaway contest. To enter, scoot on over to her blog (http://suzannewoodsfisher.blogspot.com/).

COPPER FIRE
by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Published by Vintage Romance Publishing

ABOUT THE BOOK

Copper Fire is the sequel to Copper Star, picking right up at the very end of World War II. On a summer day in 1945, my main character, Louisa, receives a telegram from the International Red Cross Tracing Service. She discovers that her cousin, Elisabeth, has just been released from Dachau. Louisa is determined to go to Germany to get Elisabeth...and that's where the story begins.

Buy your copy of Copper Fire today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I try to write about interesting people who have been overlooked. In Copper Star, I wrote about Louise Tracy, wife of Spencer Tracy. In 1942, Louise Tracy started a foundation (The John Tracy Clinic) to teach oral communication (lip reading and speaking) to pre-school age children. She and Spencer had a deaf son, John. Louise ignored the conventional wisdom of the day (sending John to an institution to learn sign language) and had remarkable success teaching him to communicate. In both Copper Star and Copper Fire, a deaf child named William steals the show.

The other interesting person in these stories is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian who tried to assassinate Hitler. He plays a very significant role in both books.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I wish I were more like my main character in Copper Star, Louisa, the young resistance worker smuggled out of Germany by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She's funny, determined, smart... and flawed. And she knows it! She has an ability not to take herself too seriously.

3. What themes exist in Copper Fire that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

There is a phrase that Louisa uses that is the theme for this book: "Everybody wants to be found." Ironically, it comes back to slap Louisa in the face when her former love track s her down and complicates her life.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

Writing Copper Fire was much easier than writing Copper Star because the main characters were already developed. They had already set up housekeeping in my head and had rearranged the furniture to their liking. (Uh oh...I sound a little crazy, don't I?)

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

In late August, Grit from the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers, will be released from Vintage Spirit. I wrote Grit with three other very talented authors.

In February 2009, a love story set in 1969, For the Love of Dogs, will be released by Vintage.

And another piece of great news! I just received a contract from Revell/Baker for a non-fiction book called Amish Peace in an English Life. It won't be out until 2010...but it is taking up 90% of my brain right now.

Thanks for hosting me today!

* * * * *

Thank you, Suzanne, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Copper Fire.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that there is a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

* * * * *

Other Blogs on the Tour

6/16 - http://forstrose.blogspot.com/ - Bibliophile's Retreat
6/18 - http://miraleesdesk.blogspot.com/ -
Coming Home—A Christ Centered Blog by Christian Writer Miralee Ferrell
6/19 - http://denadyer.com/ - Dena Dyer
6/20 - http://www.ambermiller.com/ - A Fiction-Filled Life by Amber Miller (Writer & Author) 6/23 - http://portraitofawriter.ginaconroy.com/ - Portrait of a Writer…Interrupted
6/23 - http://teresaslack.blogspot.com/ - Theresa Slack
6/24 - http://dianewylie.blogspot.com/ - Diane Wylie
6/25 - http://christysbookblog.blogspot.com/ - Christy's Book Blog
6/27 - http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com/ - Tricia Goyer
7/08 - http://2nd-cup-of-cofee.blogspot.com/ - 2nd Cup of Coffee

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour - Deeanne Gist and Deep in the Heart of Trouble

ATTENTION: Previous blog post commenters

I know. I know. I'm way behind in announcing the winners. But, I DO have an excuse. I was out of town for 8 days with no internet access, and although the posts were done ahead of time, I wasn't here to announce the winners.

So, I'll be doing that later today. Be on the lookout for the past 2 weeks' worth of blog spotlights and book giveaways. The winner just might be you!

And now on with today's spotlight...



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Deep in the Heart of Trouble
(Bethany House Publishers - June 1, 2008)
by Deeanne Gist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

*Note from Amber - Deeanne is such a sweet lady, and her books are absolutely fantastic! I was hooked from the first page of her first novel. And when I met her through her blog, I discovered a kindred spirit. Meeting her in person at ACFW in Dallas was only icing on the cake. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoy counting Deeanne a friend.

Deeanne Gist has been a busy lady. She had a career in elementary education. She raised four children. In fifteen years she has: run a home accessory/antique business, member of the press, penned freelance journalism for a few well-known publications, People, Parents, Family Fun and more. She was the CFO for her husband's engineering company, she did all this in her home.

She also founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products which would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she submitted A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers and they picked it up for their new "edgy inspirational" line of historical fiction. After its release in July 2005, Bride hit eight best seller lists and has sold over 100,000 copies and won the Christy Award for BEST ROMANCE 2006. The Measure of a Lady was her 2006 summer release. It hit five best seller lists and won the Christy Award for BEST ROMANCE 2007. Gist is contracted to have a new book come out every summer. Courting Trouble was her 2007 summer release and it hit three best seller lists.

Deeanne lives in Texas with her husband of over twenty-four years. They have two kids in high school, two in college.

DEEP IN THE HEART OF TROUBLE
by Deeanne Gist
Published by Bethany House

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Texas-Sized Tale of Unexpected Love

Essie Spreckelmeyer is the last woman anyone in Corsicana, Texas, expected to see with a man on her arm. Independent and outspoken, she's known more for riding bicycles in outrageous bloomers than for catching a man's eye.

And the last man who seems willing to give her a second glance is Tony Morgan, newly hired at Spreckelmeyer's oil company. The disinherited son of an oil baron, Tony wants most to restore his name and regain his lost fortune--not lose his heart to this headstrong blonde. She confounds, contradicts, and confuses him. Sometimes he doesn’t know if she’s driving him toward the aisle or the end of his rope.

That’s how life is ...Deep In The Heart Of Trouble.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.

"Christy Award winner Gist's historical romances have increasingly gained popularity, combining witty dialog, well-balanced plots, and fully developed characters who seem almost real. Recommended for CF and romance collections."
-- Library Journal

"Gist does it again! Her signature prose is consistent and she delivers a thoroughly delightful and entertaining story that's worthy of our time and attention. Not only won't you want to put this book down, you'll want to enjoy this story again and again."
-- JUNE TOP PICK, 4-1/2 STARS, Romantic Times, Jennifer Reyes

"Gist has once again written a delightfully humorous historical romance. After reading the first book in this series of two, I was anxious to get my hands on this one. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed ... It is a spectacular, feel-good story which I highly recommend. You will definitely be glad you read it."
-– FIVE STAR RATING, The Romance Studio, Brenda Talley

BOOK REVIEW

I'll confess that there were aspects of the first book in this set that rubbed me the wrong way. The biggest was the fact that by the end, Essie hadn't found a beau or suitor. And the man who had actually come to her and offered to do the honorable thing after they went a little too far in their affections, well, Essie sent him packing. I was actually rooting for him.

However, one thing you always know will be included in Deeanne's books is humor and witty dialogue or humorous--sometimes embarassing--circumstances.

The same goes for Deep in the Heart of Trouble. Sparks fly when Tony Morgan (aka Tony Bryant) sets out to regain his status, his father's name, and his fortune only to come against Essie Spreckelmeyer standing in his way.

Burnt from previous heartbreak and heartache, Essie's shyness where men are concerned actually provides a good source of comedy and a nice counterpart to her often brazen behavior. Despite Tony's handsome good looks and appeal, he had to work extra hard to get Essie to trust him, and that often led to comical mistakes whenever she was near.

With supporting characters that only served to heighten the flow of the story and keep the pace at page-turning speed, Deeanne once again delivers a winner. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see yet another award nomination from the Christy's, the RITA or ACFW's Book of the Year.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. You're back with the mis-adventures of Essie from Courting Trouble. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Most people think the oil industry in Texas started with Spindletop. But it actually started in the little town of Corsicana while they were drilling for water and accidentally struck oil. The townsfolk were up in arms about this because the oil was ruining their water well!

So, they discover the oil in Courting Trouble (1894) when they are a small, struggling cotton community. Then four years later, they are Deep in the Heart of Trouble when Corsicana becomes a full-fledged oil boom town and our heroine owns the largest oil company in town.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

I’m sure my characters reflect me in some ways. I don't see how they couldn't, but I don't intentionally make them personal. I couldn’t even pick out what parts of the novels are personal and what parts aren't. I'm simply not aware of it. If you were to ask my sister, though, she would probably be able to tell you. On second thought, let’s not ask my sister. That could be dangerous.

3. What themes exist in Deep in the Heart of Trouble that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

My main goal in writing is to use my gifts and talents to glorify the Lord. I have themes for my novels (the overall theme for DEEP is that God is trustworthy), but I don't set out to convey a particular spiritual message to my readers. To me, that is between God and the reader. But if my character wants to tap into their spiritual selves, they usually let me know (just like they let me know when they want to tap into their sinful selves).

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

This was the first time I've ever written a sequel (and most likely my last). And not only was it a sequel, but it was centered around the same main character. So, the hardest part for me was to give the heroine another internal flaw that she had to overcome. She'd experienced so much growth in the first novel, I secretly wanted to let her off the hook in this one. But, of course, you can't do that.

My favorite part was I didn't have to research a whole new time period or location. Wow, was that ever nice!

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

All my books come out in June. So, you can look for my next novel in June of 2009. It is set on the West coast just after the Civil War. That's all I can tell you for now, though. I do, however, offer sneak peaks of my work-in-progress in my Chat Room. So, if you go to www.deeannegist.com, find my blog and click on the Chat Room icon, you can keep an eye out for posts about the new, upcoming book.

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Thank you, Deeanne, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Deep in the Heart of Trouble or a FREE unsigned copy. Two chances to win with this spotlight, thanks to the generosity of Deeanne. :)

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

Make sure you leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that there's a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Spotlight on Cara Putman and Deadly Exposure AND Sandhill Dreams

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cara Putman is an author, attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, women's ministry leader, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is. Heartsong Presents is publishing a three book series of World War Two romances: Canteen Dreams (October 2007), Sandhill Dreams (May 2008), and Captive Dreams (September 2008). Love Inspired Suspense published her first romantic suspense Deadly Exposure in May 2008. Now she's working on the Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Law (don't ask!) and the first book in an Ohio World War Two series.

DEADLY EXPOSURE
by Cara Putman
Published by Steeple Hill Suspense

SANDHILL DREAMS
by Cara Putman
Published by Heartsong Presents

ABOUT THE BOOKS

How could a killer have struck in a crowded theater? That was the question plaguing TV news reporter Dani Richards. She'd been in the box next to the victim -- and hadn't heard or seen a thing. Now the very man who broke Dani's heart years ago is investigating the murder. And when her coverage of the story led the killer to stalk her, police officer and former flame Caleb Jamison insisted on protecting her. Dani was afraid to let Caleb close again. Yet she had no choice. The killer's sinister phone calls left no doubt that he'd come for Dani next.

Buy Your Copy of Deadly Exposure Today!

Lainie Gardner dreamed of becoming a nurse. Of serving her country. Of doing something important in the war. But rheumatic fever changed all that, and instead of running home, Lainie is determined to find a job at Fort Robinson in Nebraska's Sandhills. Tom Hamilton had dreams too. Dreams of preparing the horses at Fort Robinson for duty on the warfront. Instead, he is assigned to train war dogs and their handlers, meaning that each day he must face the fear he's had of dogs since he was bitten as a child. Lainie and Tom wonder why God seems to have denied them their dreams. But is it possible new dreams will bring them more joy than they ever imagined?

Buy Your Copy of Sandhill Dreams Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

For Deadly Exposure, I worked at a small town Nebraska TV station for a couple years in college, and loved the chance to resurrect my love for journalism with this book. And I set it in Lincoln, Nebraska, since I lived there two years in college and still visit at least a couple times a year. It's my idea of a perfect small city. Out of those two things, I brainstormed ideas with my husband since I knew I wanted a fast-paced suspense. Because it was published by Steeple Hill, it is also filled with romance. And I'm thrilled with the emotion and conflict that developed in it as I wrote. It's a fun read, filled with twists and romance.

Sandhill Dreams is the second book in my Nebraska World War Two series published by Heartsong Presents. I loved researching and writing this book, because it's a story that I don't think many people know about. World War Two was the first time that the United States made a concerted effort to use dogs in war. Half of those used during the war were trained at this little fort in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska. I'd visited once as a young teen and remembered that piece of history and after spending a day at the Fort with the museum curator knew it was perfect for this series.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

Dani Richards, the heroine of Deadly Exposure, has strong shades of me. We're both independent, stubborn, sink our teeth into something and not let go kind of people. Add in the love of family, Lincoln, and journalism, and she's definitely got traces of me.

Lainie Gardner has some serious questions about how much God truly cares about her after things don't turn out the way she'd planned. I'd just experienced an excruciating test in my life when I started writing the proposal for this book, and the questions I was confronting color the spiritual thread Lainie lives. I say it was the time the candy coating came off my faith and I truly learned that I do believe everything I've always said I believed. Lainie lives through the same struggles.

3. What themes exist in Deadly Exposure and Sandhill Dreams that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

For Deadly Exposure, the thread is that God is truly our refuge -- even when life is falling apart and we are confronted by our failures and need for Him. The theme verse is Psalm 62:5-6. The subtle theme is one of forgiveness and moving beyond the past mistakes. And the hero and heroine have a doozy!

For Sandhill Dreams, the theme verse comes from Isaiah 43:1. The hero and heroine both learn that God truly sees them and has called them by name. I think sometimes it is so easy to forget that when we are in the middle of trials.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

In Deadly Exposure, I struggled to get the romance up to 50% of the story. One day I was sitting at my computer asking God what to do to make the romantic conflict believable. The suspense is incredibly fast-paced (one week from start to finish), so I needed something big but believable so they could realistically fall in love. God whispered the answer in my ear, and I sat there thinking, "Wow! That would be great. Will the publisher go for it?" I wrote it, since I couldn't come up with anything better LOL, trusting God with the results. My editor loved it!

Sandhill Dreams was actually fairly easy to write. It was just a matter of sitting down and doing it. I enjoyed the story, history, and characters. Lainie was constantly getting herself into trouble, and I think is a more layered character than Audrey was in Canteen Dreams -- though I loved her. And Tom was great!

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Captive Dreams, book three in the Nebraska World War Two series, releases in September. Captive Dreams is the story of Anna Goodman and Sid Chance and the challenges they experience on the home front during World War II. Anna works at the Air Base in Kearney, but comes home each weekend to try and hold the family farm together. Since his appearance in Sandhill Dreams, Sid and a dog team have been assigned to Camp Atlanta, a Prisoner of War (POW) camp. Anna and Sid meet when Sid is overseeing a group of POWs who are providing farm labor for her father. Anna is incensed that they are there because she knows the family doesn't have the resources to pay the workers. Sid vows to pay extra attention to the Goodman farm and make sure everything is okay. Over the following months their tentative friendship builds into a romance that turns into love.

Thanks so much for hosting me. Now it's time to get back to writing!

* * * * *

Thank you, Cara, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of either Deadly Exposure or Sandhill Dreams. If you have a specific one you'd like to win, please specify with your comment.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that there is a way to contacvt you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spotlight on Sandra Robbins and Pedigreed Blood Lines

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandra Robbins is a former teacher and principal in the Tennessee public schools. She now writes full time and teaches as an adjunct college professor. She and her husband have four children and five grandchildren. Sandra is active in her church where she plays the organ and directs the handbell choir. Her love of mysteries can be traced to her childhood and the thrill of losing herself in the Nancy Drew mysteries.

PEDIGREED BLOOD LINES
by Sandra Robbins
Published by Spyglass Lane Mysteries

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Leigh Dennison's friend Addie Jordan is murdered and Leigh inherits her kennel of show dogs, Leigh finds herself a person of interest by the police in the crime. Leigh is determined to find the killer of the woman she loved like a mother and clear her name. Her list of suspects includes a homeless Vietnam veteran, a young high school dropout, the owner of a rival kennel, and the man with whom she's falling in love. As the clues begin to fall into place, Leigh finds out there's another reason why dogs are called man's best friend.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

I heard about Barbour's new Heartsong Presents Mysteries line, and I thought I would try my hand at writing a cozy mystery. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and graduated to more sophisticated mysteries as I grew older. However, I think there's still a part of that young sleuth in me.

Before I began to write, I familiarized myself with all the ingredients of a cozy—a quirky character for a sleuth, a crime that happens off-scene, and red herrings thrown in to divert the reader. Barbour also requires a Christian theme to run through the story and at least 20% romance.

After understanding all the requirements, I began to consider all my interests and which ones could grab the attention of a reader. I'm a dog lover and dote on my Yorkshire terrier Belle. Since everyone knows that dogs are man's best friend, I thought a story set in a kennel for show dogs would be appealing.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

One of the most appealing things about a cozy mystery is the quirky cast of characters that inhabit the story. I spent a lot of years in education as a teacher and a principal, and one of the things I dealt with on a day-to-day basis was that many children today suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. Of course many adults do, too, but there wasn't a name for it when they were growing up. I thought it would be interesting to write an adult character that suffers from ADD but also has a desire to solve mysteries.

One of the misconceptions about people who suffer from ADD is that they aren't very smart. On the contrary they are very intelligent people who have to find alternate ways of dealing with their inability to concentrate. I try to show that by the way Leigh deals with staying focused on a task. One of her traits is that every time she puts clothes in the washer she has to keep repeating put the soap in the washer, put the soap in the washer, or she knows the machine will grind its way through every cycle without detergent.

I suppose my experience in education influenced the fact that Blake, the heroine, is a teacher with a heart for kids. He demonstrates this in his concern for a young high school dropout. I've also seen the effects that dropping out of school can have on someone's life.

3. What themes exist in Pedigreed Blood Lines that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The main theme that I wanted readers to come away with is that we aren't placed in this world to live for ourselves. Jesus commanded us to love the Lord with all our hearts, but He also said for us love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I found it interesting to develop the changes in Leigh's life as she comes to understand what Jesus meant by loving those around us. I hope also that readers will examine their own lives to see if they open their eyes to the needs of others or if they find ways to simply ignore them.

As for themes that developed as the story progressed, I suppose I would have to cite the effect Addie's death had on Leigh. I believe our words and actions live on in the lives of those we've encountered after we're gone. Leigh found it easy to ignore Addie when she talked about really seeing the people around her, but she later came to understand what Addie had been trying to tell her all along. I hope readers will recognize the lasting effects our lives have on generations to come.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

I suppose the parts that dealt with the character of Preacher were the most difficult parts to write. He is patterned after a homeless Vietnam veteran I heard of some years ago. At the time he was living under a bridge and had suffered some horrible experiences at the hands of some people. I had friends who were victims of the Vietnam War, both in battle and in their lives afterwards, and it has always troubled me that the horrors of that time in American history still haunt so many today.

My favorite parts had to do with Leigh and Blake falling in love. I'm just a romantic at heart and love to read a good love story.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is Murder in Small Doses. It will release in February, 2009, from Barbour and is the second in the Leigh Dennison Mystery Series. In this story Leigh has just completed the Citizens' Police Academy and sees herself as a trained investigator. She talks the chief of police into letting her volunteer at the police station, much to the dismay of Detective John Sawyer. When Leigh's high school librarian is murdered and her cat disappears, Leigh stumbles onto another mystery that will take her into the world of illegal bunchers and unscrupulous class B animal dealers. Also Leigh and Blake encounter a few roadblocks along the way in their romance.

* * * * *

Thank you, Sandra, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Pedigreed Blood Lines.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Blog Tour - Allison Pittman and With Endless Sight

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allison Pittman is the award-winning author of Ten Thousand Charms and Speak Through the Wind. Before her recent success in fiction writing, Allison spent seventeen years teaching high school English. Now a full-time writer, Allison serves as the director of her church's Theater Arts Group ministry. She lives in Texas with her husband, Mike, and their sons.

WITH ENDLESS SIGHT
by Allison Pittman
Published by Multnomah Books

ABOUT THE BOOK

Belleville, Illinois and Wyoming Territories, 1861

Born into a life of privilege, fourteen-year-old Belinda never questions her security, even as she leaves Illinois with her family to discover new adventures in the Oregon Territory. But when disaster falls, Belinda is left wounded, weak, and alone. Her faith in God gives her the only strength she knows in a harsh new world.

Belinda's journey takes her to a snow-covered mining camp and a red-roofed brothel in the Wyoming mountains, but not before she must spend a lonely winter with the man who took away the life she knew. Throughout the grief and hope of a strange land, Belinda must decide if her faith is big enough to allow her to forgive.

The satisfying conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series, With Endless Sight offers a rich story of family, new beginnings, and the freedom that grace can bring.

Buy your copy of With Endless Sight today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Well, Belinda (Biddy) first appears in Ten Thousand Charms, and at the time all I really knew about her was that she was a young girl who had gone through a traumatizing experience. I knew she was hiding something, but I hadn't decided exactly what. The next year, as I was writing Speak Through the Wind, I fleshed her out a little more, giving her a strong spiritual core and a background of privilege. But the inspiration for this actual story is my family. I mean, trade a green station wagon for a stage coach, and those first few chapters are every childhood road trip I remember (minus the tragic twist, of course...). Also, during the time I was working on the series, I lost my brother, and I really wanted that brother/sister relationship to play a big role in the story. It's there with Belinda's actual brother, Chester, but also with the character Laurent. That's the kind of arm's length love that doesn't get a lot of attention in novels.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I wouldn't say I have many experiences that influence my characters, but they are definitely products of my perceptions and insecurities. In each of my main characters—Gloria, Kassandra and Belinda—the trait that is theirs alone can be summed up in one word: strength. Gloria (Charms) is such a fighter—I mean, it's covering up a mass of insecurity, but she's so tough on the outside. I can never pull that off. If I'm feeling weak or wounded, you know it. Kassandra (Wind) is scrappy too. Just continuing to get up time and time again. Me? Knock me down and I'm going to wallow for a while. And Belinda (Sight) possesses the faith I wish I had.

3. What themes exist in With Endless Sight that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The idea of betrayal and forgiveness play an important role in the story. I would hope the readers see forgiveness as a cornerstone to strength and healing—whether or not that forgiveness is warranted.

And I love the follow-up question here, because while I did set out to write a story that showcased forgiveness, there is another idea that developed on its own. I don't think I was really aware of it until I was actually writing those final chapters, and that's the idea that, eventually, we all need to take responsibility for ourselves and be comfortable with and confident of the woman who's standing in our shoes. Belinda is a child of privilege, the youngest of a doting family, she has a spiritual big brother and a bevy of caring women, but there's this wonderful moment in the story when she is absolutely alone. And fine. I think about that now—and it's literally just a few lines—but now I'm wondering if those few lines aren't my favorite part! I just love and admire her so much in that moment.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

I think my fellow writers will really identify with this...You know how when you write a book, then finish it, then revise, then revise again, then go through line edits, then copy edits...and then finally you see it in its final book-shelf form, and you just wish you could change one (or, a dozen!) more things? Well, because the stories in this series intersect, I get to revisit the characters and very scenes from those previous books, and I wanted to tweak things, but I couldn't, because of questions of continuity. Every now and then I'd look at something in the Silver Peak chapters and have to remind myself—hey! This is Belinda's story, remember?

My favorite scenes in the book are those with Belinda and Laurent in their winter in the cabin. First of all, it was a challenge to find some way to write about two people sittin' for months on end. Second, I just love Laurent, because I think he's a really unique character in the genre. An unexpected innocent. His feelings for Belinda are so pure and unselfish. He stole my heart!

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book (coming out August 19) is actually a work of non fiction. It's called Saturdays with Stella, and it tells the story of the spiritual lessons I learned when I took my dog Stella through a six-week obedience course. Let's just say we both got a crash course in recognizing our Master! Readers can get a preview by signing up for my newsletter at my website (www.allisonpittman.com) as each month has a Dog Daze Devotional.

My next novel will come out next summer. It's quite a break from the Crossroads series—it's a turn-of-the-century tale of the healing powers of God, grace...and baseball!

* * * * *

Thank you, Allison, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of With Endless Sight.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that there is a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

* * * * *

Friday, June 06, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour - Tamera Alexander and From a Distance

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
From a Distance
(Bethany House Publishers - June 1, 2008)
by Tamera Alexander



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tamera Alexander Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots and poignant prose resonate with readers. Tamera is a finalist for the 2008 Christy Award Remembered, and has been awarded the coveted RITA® from Romance Writers of America for Revealed, along with Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction of 2006 Rekindled. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in the quaint town of historic Franklin, Tennessee, where they enjoy life with their two college-age children and a precious—and precocious—silky terrier named Jack.

A Note from Tamera:

Stories are journeys, and each story I write is a journey for me.

Rekindled began with a dream—the image of a man returning home on horseback. He came upon a freshly dug grave and when he knelt to read the name carved into the roughhewn wooden cross, he discovered the name was...his own. The inspiration for Revealed grew from two characters in Rekindled whose stories needed to be told. But even more, whose stories I needed to tell. Writing Revealed was a very personal journey for me, and a healing one. For Remembered, I met that story's heroine (figuratively, of course) while strolling the ancient cobblestoned pathways of a three hundred-year-old cemetery in northern Paris, France. And From A Distance came from a question I was struggling with in my own life at the time, "What happens when the dream you asked God for isn't what you thought it would be?"

For me, the greatest thrill of these writing journeys is when Christ reveals Himself in some new way, and I take a step closer to Him. And my deepest desire is that readers of my books will do that as well—take steps closer to Him as they read. After all, it's all about Him.

In the Potter's Hand,
Tamera

FROM A DISTANCE
by Tamera Alexander
Published by Bethany House

ABOUT THE BOOK

What happens when dreams aren't what you imagined,

And secrets you've spent a lifetime guarding are finally laid bare?

Determined to become one of the country's premier newspaper photographers, Elizabeth Westbrook travels to the Colorado Territory to capture the grandeur of the mountains surrounding the remote town of Timber Ridge. She hopes, too, that the cool, dry air of Colorado, and its renowned hot springs, will cure the mysterious illness that threatens her career, and her life.

Daniel Ranslett, a former Confederate sharpshooter, is a man shackled by his past, and he'll do anything to protect his land and his solitude. When an outspoken Yankee photographer captures an image that appears key to solving a murder, putting herself in danger, Daniel is called upon to repay a debt. He's a man of his word, but repaying that debt will bring secrets from his past to light. Forced on a perilous journey together, Daniel and Elizabeth's lives intertwine in ways neither could have imagined when first they met ... from a distance.

Buy your copy of From a Distance today!

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.

"...a rich historical romance by possibly the best new writer in this subgenre."
--Library Journal

"...a most amazing story. The characters are more than words on the page; they become real people."
--Romantic Times

BOOK REVIEW

When I read Tammy's first book, Rekindled, I knew I had found a new favorite author to add to my list. Ironic to realize that 3 of my top favorites are published by Bethany House. :) Anyway, the Fountain Creek Chronicles brought historical Colorado to life for me. I wept and rejoiced and shared in every experience and feeling the characters from the books in that series had.

This series starts off strong, and like the books in Fountain Creek Chronicles improved with each book, I am confident the same will take place with this new series. I empathize with the difficulty that exists in beginning a new series. Everything must be done from scratch again, and it's like you're starting on your first book.

Elizabeth in this book was difficult to like. She reminded me of my heroine from my first book. Uppity, rude, self-assued and unwilling to admit that she might be in the wrong. And like Gustaf in my book, Daniel delivered fantastic rebuttals to her attitude and high-browed ways while also retreating when necessary to lick his own wounds from his past. I think I related more to Daniel than Elizabeth, but I can certainly see why Elizabeth acted that way.

And now that I live in beautiful Colorado, the setting appeals to me on an even greater level. The vivid imagery and description penned by Tammy's hand makes the scenery come to life as you read. You'll feel like you're walking among the mountains yourself.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. This is the first book in your new series. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

The idea came from a question I was struggling with in my own life at the time, "What happens when the dream you asked God for isn't what you thought it would be?" For me, that dream was/is writing.

Do I enjoy writing? Yes…and no. One thing I didn't expect was for writing to get harder and harder. Each book is a bigger challenge. Each book is more difficult to write. I don't know where I got it, but somewhere I picked up this idea that it would get easier as you went along. Not! Now that I know that (with only five books under my belt, I've still got much yet to learn), it's not as paralyzing anymore. It's still hard, don't get me wrong. But knowing what I'm up against helps some.

I now expect those moments "mid book" when I panic and begin wondering—despairing sometimes—if I can really do this again. If maybe I've heard wrong and I'm not supposed to be doing this after all. Then…I fix my eyes (back) on Jesus, focus on Him (instead of my inadequacies), and keep writing.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

In every book, to some extent, I think there are bits and pieces of the author. For Elizabeth Westbrook, her relentless pursuit of a dream is something I shared, so I drew from personal motivations—and mistakes—I've made along the way. Daniel Ranslett is a man who carries baggage from the past with him. Namely, guilt over things he's done, and didn't do. And questioning the why of things. I have some experience with that too.

But really, as the story unfolds and the characters begin to grow and their motivations take over, that intentional "tapping into my experiences" fades and the characters become like real people to me. I do my best to slip into their skin and see the world through their eyes. Sometimes it takes writing/rewriting a scene several times in order to get that close "point of view" where the reader can actually feel the character's emotions and experience the events along with them. I rely greatly on my editors (and my fabulous writing critique partner, Deborah Raney) to tell me whether I've done that or not. Oftentimes, a writer is just too close to their story to see it objectively.

3. What themes exist in From a Distance that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Themes are funny things… I may be halfway through writing a book before I actually see with full clarity what the theme of that story really is. Theme grows from the characters' actions and motivations, what they want more than anything else, and what lessons they learn along the way. The arcing theme here is about pursuing God's dream for your life. I'm already getting reader mail (which is one of the best things about writing—connecting with readers!), and am hearing this theme being echoed. As for the more subtle themes in this book, I think those are quite individual to the reader and are best left in their hands.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

This book was especially difficult to write. Whether it was due to the pressure I put on myself (I've been known to have unrealistic expectations, imagine…), or the fact that our family moved cross country while I was writing, or our son graduated from high school one week before we moved, or that we were transitioning to an empty nest while I was revising and editing…take your pick. All I know is that holding this "finally in print" book in my hands felt really good!

And my favorite part is, by far, having written.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is The Inheritance, the first historical for the WOMEN OF FAITH fiction line with Thomas Nelson Publishers. It releases in March 2009 and is a historical romance set in Copper Creek, Colorado 1877. In May 2009, Beyond This Moment, a second Timber Ridge Reflections novel is due out. And fall 2009 will see the third installment of Timber Ridge Reflections released. The third title is TBD, but you can bet it'll start with a preposition!

Thanks for hosting me, Tiff!

Bless you, friend,
Tamera

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Thank you, Tammy, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of From a Distance.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

Make sure you leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that there's a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Blog Tour - Gayle Roper and Fatal Deduction

Gayle is one of my author friends from back East, and a fantastic writer. I'll never forget the day she brought her RITA award to our monthly meeting so we all could see it and hold it and dream that one day WE might be the one with a RITA of our own. :)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gayle Roper has been writing mystery and romantic suspense novels for more than thirty years and is the author of over forty-five books. She is a three-time Christy Award finalist, the winner of three Holt Medallions, and the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times magazine. Her novel Autumn Dreams won Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. She and her husband, Chuck, divide their time between Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada.

FATAL DEDUCTION
by Gayle Roper
Published by Waterbrook Press/Multnomah Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK

Libby Burton longs to be close to her twin sister, Tori, but their lives have taken them in different directions. Forced to share Aunt Stella's old Philadelphia home in order to receive their inheritance, Libby hopes for a change, but it isn't looking good so far.

First, Tori tries to steal the affection and allegiance of Libby's thirteen-year-old daughter, Chloe. Then when a crossword puzzle with a hidden warning shows up on their doorstep, Tori refuses to take it seriously—in spite of the dead man who delivers it.

Libby finds comfort in neighbor Drew Canfield, but he hesitates to trust her after his disastrous marriage. As Libby struggles to act faithfully in the midst of these confusing relationships, she must also deal with a stolen diamond and a botched kidnapping. The answer to her problems lies in the riddles of the crosswords, if only she can solve the puzzle before it's too late.

Buy your copy of Fatal Deduction today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Where a story comes from is always a difficult question to answer. Usually several things come together to form a whole, and I never remember the order the thoughts appear or the reason they appeared. They just do.

I know that for Fatal Deduction my editor asked for an urban setting, so I picked Philadelphia. I've always lived near that city though never in it. It was the only city I'd feel comfortable tackling. One day when my husband Chuck and I went into Philly to see Les Miserables, we were early and walked around a bit. We stumbled on this wonderful Colonial era lane some distance from the historical district. Bingo. I had my setting. To get around my lack of living-in-the-city knowledge, I had my characters come from outside. Libby and her twin Tori are forced to live in one of the Colonial row houses to inherit their aunt's estate, and Drew, a Ben Franklin scholar, is on a house exchange so he can research in Ben's city for a time.

I'm not sure when the crossword puzzle device came to me. I've always done crosswords and enjoyed them. Using them to have the threats delivered was fun. I found an online site where you could build your own puzzles. I made up ones that included all the crucial words with the clue letters in the right order. The readers can either solve them for themselves or let the characters do it for them. Answer keys are at the back of the book.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

Most of the characters' experiences are strictly the product of my fevered imagination. I've never found a body on my doorstep. I've never sold anything on ebay. I've never discovered a cache of stolen jewels. I've never been pregnant ever, let alone at sixteen. But I have lived in a family that loves me even though they don't understand my commitment to the Lord. Where Libby's family is cold toward her, mine has always been kind and loving, but they do think I'm extreme in the area of faith.

3. What themes exist in Fatal Deduction that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I guess the theme is family. Sometimes, like Libby (and me), you can reach d├ętente, loving and respecting in spite of differences. Sometimes, like Drew, the others involved won’t allow any meaningful relationship, however tenuous.

My feeling is that most of us with unbelieving families live in situations more like Libby, where you aren't actually rejected, just perhaps misunderstood because of your faith. I wanted readers to see that, like Libby, you can stand firm for Jesus but accept those related to you as they are. They may be angered by your different way of thinking and living, seeing it as a criticism of them, but if you love back, not preach at, most times you can do well together in spite of the differences.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

For me the most difficult parts to write are always the spiritual arcs, the spiritual conversations. I want those segments to be strong, but in fiction you can't write things we might say, like "Praise the Lord"”, and have it sound normal. You also can't have lengthy paragraphs on God-topics or the reader will skip over them. That means that the characters have to be able to state their spiritual case concisely without losing its meat and without sounding trite. A challenge!

I have several favourite parts of writing Fatal Deduction. I liked developing Chloe and Jenna, the teenagers. A thirteen year old mindset is something unique. I loved writing Drew and his penchant for Ben Franklin quotes and his frustration over what to do about Ruthie. I thoroughly enjoyed turning the readers' perception of aged patrician Tinksie Mowrey on its ear during the climactic chase. And I loved writing Libby in first person so she could think things like Bling and bland. That was the Keating twins, she, of course seeing herself as the bland one.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book will be Hide and Seek from Focus on the Family, due out next spring. It's the first in a series about a family of four adult siblings, each having his/her own book. The series is called Legacy: every family leaves one, good or bad. Hide and Seek is about Gabe, the older brother, the local police chief, and football coach, and Ellie, a woman in hiding to protect her son who plays on Gabe's team. He senses her secrets, and she wants to keep them at all costs. His background is a legacy we'd all be happy to have; Ellie's is one of pain and dysfunction.

* * * * *

Thank you, Gayle, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Fatal Deduction.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Spotlight on Marlo Schalesky and Beyond the Night

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marlo Schalesky is the award-winning author of six books, including her latest novel BEYOND THE NIGHT, which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist to create a new type of story. She has also had over 600 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson's Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on more "Love Stories with a Twist!" for Multnomah-Waterbrook Publishers, a division of Random House. She owns her own construction consulting firm and lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four young daughters.

BEYOND THE NIGHT
by Marlo Schalesky
Published by Random House/Waterbrook/Multnomah

ABOUT THE BOOK

They say love is blind.

This time, they're right.

A poignant love story...

A shocking twist...

Come, experience a love that will not die.

A Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) type love story meets a M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) twist in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can't tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed.

Buy Your Copy Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for your story in this anthology?

It was all God's fault. And it started with a dream. Not one of those "I have a dream" kind of dreams, but a real, honest-to-goodness, it's-3am-and-I'm-asleep kind of dreams. I dreamt Paul and Maddie's love story. And when I woke up, I couldn't get the two of them out of my head. I thought about them in the shower, on the way to seminary classes, in the grocery store. Everywhere! For weeks, I found myself replaying tidbits of their story in my mind, until I finally figured out that maybe God wanted me to write their story.

Two more days went by, and Paul and Maddie's story still kept teasing my mind. And then I saw it – the big twist. The incredible truth that I had no idea about before. It took my breath away. So, after I finished picking my jaw up off the floor, I sat down and starting working on the proposal for Beyond the Night.

As I fleshed out the story, I realized that this is exactly the type of book I'd like to keep writing – something with the poignancy of a Nicolas Sparks love story matched with the knock-your-socks-off twist of a M. Night Shymalan movie (without the horror). That kind of story excited me, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. And I figured that there had to be more people like me out there – people who want to be both moved emotionally and surprised and delighted intellectually. People who want to be changed, challenged, and caught with wonder by a story. And that's what I'm hoping Beyond the Night provides.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

When my grandfather was going blind, he took a shotgun to the backyard and ended his life. So, Maddie's journey through blindness and fear grows out of my family's experiences. Maddie's condition is also a metaphor for the dark times we all face. For the difficulties that come and rattle our faith, for those times when we can't see what's ahead, when life is masked by shadow and doubt.

For Maddie, losing her physical sight prompted her journey through doubt and fear. For me, it was infertility and miscarriage. If there's one thing I know about it's living the life God has given you when it's not the life you dreamed. Infertility taught me how to do that. It taught me that life takes unexpected turns and dark, difficult times come. And it taught me that it's not the darkness that will destroy you, but the fear of it.

So, in many ways this book explores my own questions, my own doubts, my own faith journey in facing the darkness, facing fear, with hope and dignity. That's why it's is about overcoming the fear of the unknown, rather than letting it overcome you. It's about finding the light, the hope, the promise that lies beyond the darkness. And I think we could all use that, whether we're going physically blind or not.

As for what traits belong to only my characters, well, their quirky fun personalities, their humorous interactions with one another – those things are only theirs, they came complete with the characters I dreamed about – funny half-smile and all.

3. What themes exist in Beyond the Night that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Funny thing is that when I first proposed this book, I thought it would be about the enduring qualities of real love. And that is part of it. But as I started to write, I soon discovered the story was really about overcoming fear – fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of getting hurt, fear of letting go – the kinds of fear that regular, not-particularly-fearful people still have to face in their everyday lives.

But the interesting thing was that as the story progressed, I began to see that overcoming fear isn't really about "getting up the courage'or trying to be brave. Not at all! What truly defeats fear is a glimpse of the breathtaking wonder of a vivid God. It's about the awe of knowing that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has risen to understand what God has prepared for those who love Him." (my translation from the Greek of 1 Corinthians 2:9).

Just as light drives out darkness, so fear is driven out by hope, and hope is found in God's amazing love.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The first few chapters are always the most difficult for me to write. This book was no exception. In those first chapters, I haven't gotten into the groove yet, and I usually feel like I'm still finding my way. In contrast, the last few chapters are always the easiest.

But for this book, my favorite parts were those in which Paul and Maddie "bantered" back and forth. Those two were just so much fun! They joked, they teased, they saw into each other's hearts. And really, all I had to do was sit back and listen...then transcribe what I heard. They did all the work! So, I had a good time with those scenes, and I hope readers will enjoy them as much as I did.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

If Tomorrow Never Comes releases in March 2009 (whoo hoo!) and here's a bit about it:

They say you should reach for your dreams.

This time, they're wrong...

Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams—marriage, children, a house by the sea...everything they needed for happily ever after. What they didn't plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes.

Now, all that's left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until...

Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, and the threads of the past, present, and future weave together to reveal the wonder of one final hope. One final chance to follow not their dreams, but God's.

Can they embrace the redemptive power of love before it's too late? Or will their love be washed away like the castles they once built upon the sand? The past whispers to the present. And the future shivers. What if tomorrow never comes?

* * * * *

Thank you, Marlo, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Beyond the Night.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

* * * * *